Today’s most compelling value propositions in manufacturing and education
Posted by Bert Maes on June 24, 2010
It was Margaret Heffernan -CEO, speaker and writer- who started an impassioned debate two days ago, with a simple thesis: Innovation’s Over — Price Is Back: Today’s consumers will not settle for the multi-featured, most inventive solutions. Instead they choose the cheaper ones, those that are ‘good enough‘, those that bring ease of use and peace of mind, the ‘generics‘ that still meet the quality demands.
She got 84 comments so far – which is impressive, I think. The biggest part says this is ridiculous and for sure not a general trend. Others are more thought-provoking:
- The more unique a product category, the less price makes a difference. The right innovations such as the iPad and iPhone are selling. The more a product becomes a commodity item, even with the finest of innovations, price beats all (comment #5 – kmit solutions). Different goods will employ different forms of pricing strategies (comment #46 – waisingster).
- True innovation would be to bring all those features to market at a cost lower than the traditional-product competition. That’s a game changer (comment #8 – shadrach723). Lower prices with more features makes the product accessible for a much larger segment of the market who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford the (pricier) original product (comment #51 – bdegon).
- This is just a result of the crisis period, of a new reality, it’s nothing shocking with a slightly higher price sensitivity in bad economic times (comment #59 – pehthor): consumers don’t like cheap, aren’t looking for cheap, but today they just have less dollars and are more conscious of how they use this limited resource (comment #15 – SuzanneJazz), they are weighing absolute price more heavily than absolute value (comment #20 – marti barletta). For today’s consumer newness isn’t as sexy as it has been in the past (comment #58 – esinger999).
What does this mean for manufacturing businesses and… for technical schools?
Just be completely different, make your solution stand apart in fundamental ways, otherwise you will end up in a fierce (price) competition.
And being different, what could that mean today?
Just what Scott Berkun reported in Bloomberg Businessweek: ‘Good’ beats ‘innovative’ nearly every time.
All you need, Scott says, is the ability to make things that are good consistently, since few companies do. In retrospect, the successes of the now best companies seem amazing, but at the time, the goals were simple and the objective humble and clear: be good, or at least better than the other guys. For they knew that alone was hard enough.
Their success or failure is driven less by revolutionary ideas or radical disruptive breakthrough thinking and more by a focus on making solid, reliable, simple, good products that solve real needs people have. Most innovative products simply fail because creators become distracted by their egos from the true goal: to solve real problems for real people.
One way a product or service can be powerfully differentiated is by taking away features, achieving a core simplicity that appeals to overtaxed consumers. Or it can be what Sean Silverthorne wrote in the same article: Look at the MINI Cooper: does that remind you of any other car? Does an Apple PC look and feel like a “me too” model from Dell or Acer?
Simplifying lives, being unique, saving time and costs, and making work time more enjoyable seem to me like the new compelling value propositions, for enterprise workers, for teachers and for students…
Visit www.HTECnetwork.eu for a program that makes the professional lives of teachers a lot easier, saves schools a lot of money and gives the students more fun in the mechanical/CNC manufacturing classroom.